AUBURN BAPTIST CHURCH STATEMENT REGARDING COMMITMENT TO BIBLICAL RESOLUTION (7 JUNE 2024)

Dear fellow Baptists,

We hope you are doing well.

Since March 2023, Auburn Baptist Church has been attempting to seek a Biblical resolution to the Auburn revitalisation process with the Baptist Association through genuine mediation.

The dispute with the Baptist Association has arisen in March 2023 with the abrupt removal of Auburn Baptist representatives from the revitalisation process.

The Auburn Baptist Church Open Letter (27 May 2024) clearly indicates that we do not want to take action in civil courts (1 Corinthians 6).

Even though Assembly Council has rejected two requests (March and May 2024) for an independent investigation into the conduct of the Baptist Association regarding Auburn, Auburn Baptist remains committed to a Biblical resolution.

Auburn Baptist members have also resolved to NOT participate in any protest action on 14-15 June 2024 outside the Baptist Annual Assembly (The Gathering).

It is saddening to hear suggestions of legal action being considered involving the Auburn revitalisation process.

We thank you for your prayers as we pursue a Biblical resolution of the Auburn Rebirth, ultimately in support of Christian and Baptist ministry in the community.

In Christ,

Auburn Baptist Church

AUBURN BAPTIST CHURCH STATEMENT REGARDING ASSEMBLY COUNCIL STATEMENT ON AUBURN BAPTIST CHURCH (31 MAY 2024)

Auburn Baptist Church is aware of the statement from Assembly Council of 30 May 2024.
 
The Auburn Baptist Church is not aggrieved regarding the start of the revitalisation process in 2022, but disappointed at the sudden removal of Auburn Baptist representatives in March 2023 from the process to relaunch a new Baptist Church in Auburn (comprised of 1 Baptist Church Plant + Auburn Baptist members [in a non-leadership position]).
 
Assembly Council’s public statement does not reflect the private correspondence received by Auburn Baptist Church.
 
Auburn Baptist has requested genuine mediation (through individuals that are familiar with Baptist Churches in NSW and/or do not have a conflict of interest), but the Baptist Association will only meet with pre-conditions and a pre-determined agenda to only restate the Association’s position.
 
We continue to pray for a Biblical resolution, and again repeat our request to Assembly Council for an independent investigation into the Auburn Rebirth process.

AUBURN BAPTIST CHURCH LETTER TO ALL BAPTIST CHURCHES IN NSW & ACT (26 MAY 2024)

Auburn Baptist Church
Serving the Community since 1888

PO BOX 362, Auburn NSW 1835

www.auburnbaptistchurch.org.au
www.facebook.com/auburnbaptistchurchsydney

Auburn Baptist Church and the Baptist Union: A Call for Your Support and Prayers

26 May 2024

The Auburn Baptist Church extends its appeal to Baptist Churches in NSW & ACT such as yours. We are seeking your support for and prayers regarding Christian ministry in the Auburn community, and a review into the conduct of the Baptist Association Church Multiplication Team.

 

Auburn Baptist Church and its history

Auburn Baptist Church is a faithful community of Baptists that have met since 1888 in the Auburn community.

We are a community of people, who by faith, follow Jesus, and seek to know Him more and more. In response to Jesus’ love for us, we seek to make Him known to others, and we give ourselves to Him in service to each other.

Around 1888, Baptist families of Auburn began meeting in private homes as places of worship. It was soon decided by the denomination to build a Church. A small structure was erected around 1896 to operate as a Baptist Church. Soon after, the Church was extended, and a Manse was built. Early in 1928, plans were prepared for a new Church (at the current location of 16 Harrow Road, Auburn) with seating for 500 worshippers. The new Church was opened on 14 April 1928 by the first candidate for Baptism.

Auburn Baptist Church has a been a foundational pillar of Christian ministry in the community including the planting of Regents Park Baptist Church (now Heartbeat Church) in 1907, Chester Hill Baptist Church in 1929, and Lidcombe-Berala Baptist Church in 1934.

The Auburn Christian Preschool (now part of Integricare) has been an outreach ministry of the Auburn Baptist Church for many decades. Our community engagement also extends to running a Sewing Group for parents of infants in the pre-school and as inter-faith hub with our Muslim neighbours.

Auburn Baptist Church also is one of the founding members of the Auburn Christian Churches network for prayer and church unity in the Cumberland LGA. Cumberland Council regularly invites us to hold public community stalls at the Auburn Ramadan Food Festival, Christmas, and Easter events. The Auburn Baptist Church has also hosted multiple outreach nights in Western Sydney for Asian-Australian youth through the RICE Movement.

The church facilities at Auburn Baptist Church are also warmly shared with the Western District Chinese Christian Church (since the early 2000s) and also previously with the Logos Christian Church (now Trinity Christian Church).

 

What happened at Auburn?

The Baptist Union introduced a Rebirth process for Auburn Baptist Church in 2022 with a commitment to establish “a new and flourishing Baptist congregation” involving one (1) local Baptist Church Plant with the members of the Auburn Baptist Church (in a non-leadership capacity).

The Baptist Union presented a Rebirth process flowchart including a written statement of “build relationship between the two churches” leading up to the vote for Rebirth in July 2022.

The Auburn Baptist Church disagrees with claims made by the Baptist Union including that the Rebirth process flowchart was edited by Auburn Baptist Deacons prior to its presentation during the Members Meeting vote on Rebirth in July 2022. We would be happy to share the electronic metadata of emails and PowerPoint slides which include Baptist Union employee names as the files’ authors.

The Rebirth process was supported by 90% of Auburn Baptist Church members in July 2022 (voting in favour of a motion drafted by the Baptist Union) to close the church as the first step to establishing a new Baptist Church in Auburn via a Transitional Leadership Team. The motion was worded as follows:

The Church Officers of Auburn Baptist Church resolve to cease operations on 2nd October 2022 in line with the decision by the church membership on 19th June 2022 to proceed towards rebirth.

In line with clauses 6(c) of Auburn Baptist Church’s constitution, the Church hands over management responsibilities to the Baptist Association for the purposes of rebirthing a new congregation in Auburn.

We have recently been made aware that the motion referred to the “Church Officers” and not the entire Auburn Baptist Church membership. Further, we have recently been made aware that the Auburn Baptist Church constitution, like the constitutions of many other Baptist Churches in NSW & ACT (see the Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT Church Constitution Guidance), does not have a procedure for dissolving the Auburn Baptist Church and so unanimous agreement of the Church membership was in fact required to validly dissolve Auburn Baptist Church.

However, we did not question the process that was suggested to us by the Baptist Union leadership involved with the Rebirth Process because, at the time, we trusted that that the Baptist Union leadership had implemented the Rebirth Process correctly in accordance with their commitment made to us.

Following this decision to proceed with the Rebirth of Auburn Baptist Church, the Baptist Union supplied the following statement for the Auburn Baptist Church website: “Auburn Baptist Church is undergoing a relaunch process with the Baptist Association of NSW. We will no longer be meeting in person on the church site from 3rd October 2022 as part of this process. ABC is still committed to ministry in Auburn and looking forward to renewed ministry soon.”  This statement is unchanged and is still on the Auburn Baptist Church website.

The Auburn Transitional Leadership Team established in late 2022 comprised of the Baptist Association Church Multiplication Team, three Deacons from Auburn Baptist Church, two representatives from a recently rebirthed Baptist church in the Transform Southern Sydney region and to be joined by leaders from the to be selected Baptist Church Plant.

A Rebirth combined service was organised by the Baptist Union in December 2022 involving one (1) church plant and Auburn Baptist members in Auburn as part of the outlined process to “build relationships between the two churches”. A YouTube Short of the service is available here:

11.12.2022 Auburn Baptist + Sydney Wilderness Life Church rebirth trial service with Ken Kamau (youtube.com).

 

The Baptist Union’s change of plans

The Baptist Union disbanded the Auburn Transitional Leadership Team in March 2023, opting for a new direction to sub-lease the Auburn Baptist Church premises (16 Harrow Road, Auburn) for up to 4 congregations (including non-Baptist Churches and churches that do not want to join the Baptist Union), and cancelled the Rebirth process to revitalise Auburn Baptist through one (1) new Baptist Church Plant.

Despite this change of plans and breakdown in the relationship between the Baptist Union and the Church, Auburn Baptist members continued toward “a new and flourishing Baptist congregation” in Auburn with efforts made to “build relationship between the two churches” with the second Baptist Church Plant (Westmead Baptist Church) as recommended by the Baptist Union to Auburn.

 

Mediation, and the Auburn Baptist Church’s hurt and grief

The Auburn Baptist Church has unsuccessfully attempted to seek mediation with the Baptist Union throughout 2023 and 2024. In our opinion, the Baptist Union has not agreed to engage in a non-conditional dialogue to seek a Biblical resolution to the Rebirth process for Auburn Baptist Church. The Baptist Union is only currently willing to “explain the position of the Association in relation to the closure of” the Church “and the action that has been taken following that closure.”

The Auburn Baptist Church is extremely disappointed with the Baptist Union’s approach to the Rebirth process (including describing the Auburn Rebirth process to other Baptist Churches differently to how we believe the Rebirth process was originally presented to the Auburn Baptist Church).

The Auburn Baptist Church does not object to the ultimate closure of Auburn Baptist Church nor does the membership seek to re-establish a standalone Auburn Baptist Church. We do not object to the ultimate closure of Auburn Baptist Church as we are humbly committed to the interests of Baptist ministry in Auburn, and above all to seeing the Gospel preached fully and faithfully in the Auburn community (Philippians 2:3-4). However, the condition on which the Baptist Union closure of Auburn Baptist Church was accepted by the membership is the understanding from Auburn Baptist Church that Auburn Baptist members would be invited to join the Baptist Church in Auburn led by the Baptist Church Plant.

Ultimately, it is the desire of Auburn Baptist Church to seek revitalisation through the Baptist Union as initially promised and outlined with the Rebirth process to be involving the members of Auburn Baptist Church with the members of one (1) Baptist Church Plant to form the new Baptist Church in Auburn. The Auburn Baptist Church is hurt and aggrieved that the Baptist Union has not followed through with what Auburn Baptist Church understood was the initial plan.

The Auburn Baptist Church is aggrieved that there has, in our view, been a breakdown in relationships between our Church and senior leaders of the Baptist Union. We want to resolve this breakdown.

We want to seek genuine reconciliation between the Union and the Auburn Baptist Church in resolving this breakdown (Colossians 3:12-14). We do not want to take this matter to the civil courts (1 Corinthians 6:1-6). We want our communities to continue to see that Baptist and broader Christian community is the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16).

We call on the Baptist Union to engage in open and unconditional Biblical mediation with Auburn Baptist Church.

The Auburn Baptist Church is aware that other Baptist Churches in our Union have been affected by similar disagreements in recent years. If your Baptist church community has been similarly affected, please let us know by emailing us at revitalisation@auburnbaptistchurch.org.au.  We would love to hear from and pray with you.

 

How can you help us?

The Auburn Baptist Church brings to your attention the breakdown of Christian relationships and the broader disunity arising from the change in direction of the Auburn Rebirth process (March 2023). We bring this to your attention as this is an important matter of public interest, and this disunity and disharmony is something about which you (as a fellow member of our Union of Churches in NSW and the ACT) should be aware.

The Auburn Baptist Church seeks your Church’s support at the upcoming annual Baptist Gathering on 14  & 15 June 2024 to ask Assembly Council to enable an independent review into the actions of the Baptist Association Church Multiplication Team (and Rebirth Process, including the failure to relaunch a new Baptist Church in Auburn with an invitation to the members of Auburn Baptist Church as the Church understood was originally committed to us).

The Auburn Baptist Church remains committed to seeking a Biblical resolution that does not involve legal action where possible. We believe that this is the right and the Biblical thing to do (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 6:1-6). We repeat our invitation for the Baptist Union to engage in an unconditional Biblical-based dialogue with Auburn Baptist Church members to support the growth of Christian ministry in the Auburn community.

The Auburn Baptist Church, full of active volunteer members in Western Sydney who are committed to seeing the Gospel of Jesus proclaimed in an area that desperately needs Him, is uniquely placed (in cooperation with the Baptist Church Plant) to capitalise on the changing ministry needs of the Auburn community. It is in this spirit that we and the Baptist Church Plant engaged in the Rebirth Process. It is in this spirit that we seek your support and prayers to help us complete the Rebirth Process.

We kindly ask for your prayers as we strive towards a Biblical resolution of the Rebirth process in Auburn.

For more information about Auburn Baptist Church Rebirth, please do contact the Church leadership team via email: revitalisation@auburnbaptistchurch.org.au or www.auburnbaptistchurch.org.au

 

Yours in Christ,
Auburn Baptist Church Leadership Team